Posts Tagged ‘Death to Self’


Parable of Prodigal SonSome suggest we no longer call this the Parable of the Prodigal Son, but the Parable of the Lost Sons.

I suggest that we should call it the parable of the Lost Son and the Selfish Child.

Jesus said the Father had two SONS, using the Greek word “huios” for both. Then the younger SON (huios) left, declaring his freedom, and in that culture became DEAD to his Father. When his Father saw him afar off, he leaped from his chair and ran to meet him. Rejoicing, he told everyone that this SON (huios) of mine was DEAD and is ALIVE again. (has come to life again – anadzah’o)

The younger brother was his SON again. This the Father demonstrated with the ring, the robe and the sandals. They meant the Father had RESTORED his RELATIONSHIP with his SON! WHY? Because our Father is is the Father of LIFE, of HOPE, of LIVING RELATIONSHIPS.

God of the LivingJesus declared this when he answered the Sadducees  “He is not God of the dead, but of the living.Matthew 22:32. The Word further declares:

Not only is God the God of the Living, but Paul declared this to the Romans: “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, in the power of the Holy Spirit(Rom. 15:13).

Peter further explained that this is a Living Hope by the Resurrection:Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy begat us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Pet. 1:3).

The ResurrectionGod is the God of Hope by the Resurrection — in other words, by the triumph of Life over death. This means that in every dark situation, God never despairs and never gives up. For our Father knows the tremendous power of Resurrection, of Life.

Huios vs TeknonThe Father had two SONS, but only one knew the power of RESURRECTION. In fact, when the Elder Brother argued with the Father, the Father called him my CHILD (teknon). Calling him a child was like saying “I know you are mine by birth, but you are not my SON, because we don’t have a REAL RELATIONSHIP!”

Jesus was never referred to as TEKNON of God. He was always called the HUIOS of God. We, on the other hand, are called the TEKNON of God by John to indicate we are BORN into the family of God:

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on his name.  John 1:12.

The Elder Brother Refused to Go In

Elder Brother Refuses to go in

Both Younger and Elder Brothers were the children of the Father, but as our Parable ends, only one was the SON of the Father. The Younger was the Son because he had come back to life and had come into a LIVING RELATIONSHIP with his Father.

The Elder Brother was a child of the Father, but there was no RELATIONSHIP.

The shocking truth of this Parable is that only the younger son reflected the character of the LIVING FATHER. The sinner was more like his Father than the righteous Elder Brother. WHY? Because the Younger Son was ALIVE, while the Elder Brother was DEAD in his self-righteousness.

Like Father Like SonMatthew 5:9 & 45 use the word huios and it refers to those who reflect the character of God. The Greek word for child or children is teknon. In contrast to huios, it means the fact of birth whereas huios stresses the dignity and character of the relationship. Another aspect of this Greek word, huios,  involves “likeness.” The New Testament contains the concept expressed in the proverb, “Like father, like son” (Matt. 5:45,48). It was typical Hebrew usage to employ the word “son” to express likeness. For instance, those who are peacemakers will be called God’s sons because they are like God (Matt. 5:9). God’s likeness, His image, will be “stamped” upon those who have been brought to maturity and adopted as sons (Rom. 8:29; I John 3:2-3).

One way to understand the difference between the Elder and Younger is to understand another use of HUIOS with the addition of thesia or “huiosthesia” – “adopted or placed as sons”. In the Roman world, the father adopted as a son his own child. Birth made him a child (teknon); adoption made him a son (huios). Between the period of birth and adoption, there were stages of growth, education and discipline, until the maturity was reached for adoption into sonship. With adoption the son was recognized as one who could faithfully represent the father. He had arrived at the point of maturity, where the father could entrust him with the responsibility of overseeing the family business. The son becomes the “heir” of his father’s inheritance. Birth gives one the right to the inheritance, but adoption gives one the participation in the inheritance.

Elder Brother Child Corinthians BabiesThe Elder Brother assumed upon the FATHER’S Stuff because of his natural birth, because he was the first born child. But what the Father was declaring was the SONSHIP of the younger brother because of the RESURRECTION and their restored RELATIONSHIP.

Paul referred to the Corinthians as babies, still on milk. They had been born into the family of God, but had never matured, even though they had been enriched in speech and in knowledge of Jesus Christ (1 Cor 1:6). In fact, he said they were not lacking in any spiritual gift. The Corinthians probably saw themselves as the Elder Brother saw himself – the Mature Ones. But the Father called him a child, and Paul called the Corinthains babies!

Secret of SonshipWhat makes the difference? How do we Elder Brother Types become SONS? Paul gives us the clue when he says “you are still of the flesh.” What does that mean to born again children of God?

It means we are still walking around in our stinking rotting corpses. And the flesh is abhorred by the Father.  Paul shouts the secret of SONSHIP to all Elder Brothers:

And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us. 1 Corinthians 2:12 (NLT)

We have a LIVING RELATIONSHIP with the FATHER of the LIVING, but it is only through the Holy Spirit! We must walk after the Holy Spirit to enjoy this Living Relationship with our Father. It is not on the basis of our works that we have this living relationship. It is on the basis of the Holy Spirit being allowed to LIVE in us!

The Father went outside and pleaded with his Elder Child. The word for plead is paraclete, the same word we use for the Holy Spirit! Picture the Holy Spirit pleading with all us EBT’s to reckon our flesh and works dead, and to FOLLOW HIM, to Walk in the LIFE of the Holy Spirit! This is the only way we will enjoy any RELATIONSHIP with the FATHER!

He is the FATHER of the LIVING, the FATHER of those who have died to the flesh, and now walk in the Living Relationship of the Holy Spirit within us! The younger brother experienced that death and so was welcomed to LIFE. The Elder Brother saw no need to die, and so found no LIFE.

Alive but actually dead to GodElder Brothers must realize they can be all righteous and moral but inwardly be walking corpses, dead to God!  Our morality is worthless without a LIVING RELATIONSHIP with our LIVING FATHER!

God is all about the RESURRECTION! He is all about LIFE! And ther can be no SONSHIP without the RELATIONSHIP! The Resurrection will bring all Elder Brothers (and younger) into RELATIONSHIP with the Father!

Most people who read and study The Parable of the Prodigal Son concentrate completely on the character of the younger son, his repentance, and the father’s forgiveness. And yet look at the text. It doesn’t end with the return of the prodigal. Almost half of the story is about the older son. The story is about two sons, who are both alienated from the father, who are both assaulting the unity of the family. Jesus wants us to compare and contrast them. The younger son is “lost”—that is easy to see. We see him shaming his father, ruining his family, sleeping with prostitutes, and we say, “yes, there’s someone who is spiritually lost.” But Jesus’ point is that the older son is lost too. Let’s learn from the text:

      1. A new understanding of Lostness,
      2. Signs of being an Elder Brother
      3. What we can do to join the Feast?.

1. A startling new understanding of LOSTNESS—verse 28.

  • The elder brother would have known that the day of the prodigal’s return was the greatest day in his father’s life.
  • The father has “killed the fattened calf”, an enormously expensive extravagance in a culture where even having meat at meals was considered a delicacy.
  • The older son realized his father was ecstatic with joy. Yet he refused to go into the biggest feast his father has ever put on. This was a remarkable, deliberate act of disrespect. It was his way of saying, “I won’t be part of this family nor respect your headship of it.
  • And the father had to “go out” to plead with him. Just as he went out to bring his alienated younger son into the family, now he had to do the same for the older brother.

Do you realize what Jesus is saying to his listeners, and to us? The Elder Brother is lost ! At the Very Least He is Missing out on Fellowship with His Father and Brother.

  • The father represents God himself, and the meal is the feast of salvation. In the end, then, the younger son, the immoral man, comes in and is saved, but the older son, the good son, refuses to go in and is lost
  • The Pharisees who were listening to this parable knew what that meant. It was a complete reversal of everything they believed. You can almost hear them gasp as the story ends.
  • And what is it that is keeping the elder brother out? It’s because: “All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed…” (v.29). The good son is not lost in spite of his good behavior, but because of his good behavior. So it is not his sin keeping him out, but his righteousness.
  • The gospel is neither religion nor is it irreligion; it is not morality nor is it immorality. This was completely astonishing and confusing to Jesus’ hearers at the time—and it may even be astonishing and confusing to you

Why is the older son lost?

New understanding of Lostnessa) There is No Relationship.
b) There is No Companionship.
c) There is Only a Selfish Child.

The Father Parakaleo – came along side, is a picture of the Holy Spirit, pleading! Come in, Fellowship with me!

The younger brother wanted the father’s wealth, but not the father. So how did he get what he wanted? He left home. He broke the moral rules. But it becomes evident by the end that the elder brother also wanted selfish control of the father’s wealth. He was very unhappy with the father’s use of the possessions—the robe, the ring, the calf. But while the younger brother got control by taking his stuff and running away, we see that the elder brother got control by staying home and being very good. He felt that now he has the right to tell the father what to do with his possessions because he had obeyed him perfectly.

So there are two ways to be your own Savior and Lord.

  • One is by breaking all the laws and being bad.
  • One is by keeping all the laws and being good.

If I can be so good that God has to answer my prayer, give me a good life, and take me to heaven, then in all I do I may be looking to Jesus to be my helper and my rewarder—but he isn’t my Savior. I am then my own Savior.

The difference between a religious person and a true Christian is that the religious person obeys God to get control over God, and things from God, but the Christian obeys just to get God, just to love and please and draw closer to him.

2. ARE YOU AN ELDER BROTHER TYPE?—verses 29-30.

Elder Brother TypesSome people are complete elder brothers. They go to church and obey the Bible—but out of expectation that then God owes them. They have never understood the Biblical gospel at all. But many Christians, who know the gospel, are nonetheless elder-brotherish. Despite the fact that they know the gospel of salvation by grace with their heads, their hearts go back to an elder-brotherish “default mode” of self-salvation.

Here is how to tell if you are infected with the Spirit of the ELDER BROTHER:

  • AN ANGRY SPIRIT (v.28—“became angry”).

But he was angry (ōrgisthē). First aorist (ingressive) passive indicative. But he became angry, he flew into a rage (orgē). This was the explosion as the result of long resentment towards the wayward brother and suspicion of the father’s partiality for the erring son.

If you believe God owes you a good life…
You will be angry…Why does my buddy have a better life…Why is all this going wrong…
Anger is a characteristic-frustrated, hostile
Elder brothers believe that God owes them a comfortable and good life if they try hard and live up to standards—and they have! So they say: “my life ought to be going really well!” and when it doesn’t they get angry. But they are forgetting Jesus. He lived a better life than any of us—but suffered terribly.

  • A Selfish SPIRIT (would not go in)

Would not go in (ouk ēthelen eiselthein). Imperfect tense (was not willing, refused) and aorist active (ingressive) infinitive. Selfish people are Fleshly People. They are Dead, but don’t realize it.

The Elder was dead and did not realize it. The Younger was dead, and realized it.

  • A SPIRIT OF Joyless and Dutiful Obedience (v.29—“I’ve been slaving for you”).

Duty without beauty.
Younger son – I’m not worthy, make me a slave, Father makes him a Son.
Elder son – I’m your obedient son, so he becomes the obedient slave.
You go to college to study to make money
In the world you spend money because it is beauty.
Totally results oriented, becomes a grind, a duty
Elder Brothers pray but not adoring God.
Prayer is a duty, not a beauty.
I obey and obey but I don’t get anything out of it.
Everything went wrong becasue he was faithful and obedient.

Elder brothers obey God as a means to an end—as a way to get the things they really love. Of course, obedience to God is sometimes extremely hard. But elder brothers find obedience virtually always a joyless,
mechanical, slavish thing as a result.

  • A SPIRIT OF Coldness to Younger Brother-types (v.30—“this son of yours”).

You Don’t Rejoice in what the Father Rejoices in. You have Religious and class superiority. If you ground your value in success or hard work, you have to look down your nose at the poor, the perceived lazy.  When you look at people of different races, classes, you look down at them or creeped out at them you are an elder brother.  The older son will not even “own” his brother. Elder brothers are too disdainful of others unlike themselves to be effective in evangelism. Elder brothers, who pride themselves on their doctrinal and moral purity, unavoidably feel superior to those who do not have these things. If you hate other cultural styles and customs, you are an elder brother.
You don’t grow in love in sweetness. Do evidences of the joy and presence of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus doesn’t lash out at them, condemn the Parisees, the ones who will kill him. You are alienated from the Father’s heart, my child, While we were yet enemies, Christ died for us.
The Cross is the greatest challenge to us. We are so messed up that nothing short of the cross will save you. See the humiliation of the Cross, and the Affirmation of His Love for You.

  • A DOUBTING SPIRIT – Lacking Assurance of the Father’s Love (v.29—you never threw me a party).

As long as you are trying to earn your salvation by controlling God through your goodness, you will never be sure you have been good enough. What are the signs of this? Every time something goes wrong in your life you wonder if it’s a punishment. Another sign is irresolvable guilt. You can’t be sure you’ve repented deeply enough, so you beat yourself up over what you did. Lastly, there is a lack of any sense of intimacy with God in your prayer life. You may pray a lot of prayers asking for things, but not sense his love.

  • An Unforgiving, Judgmental Spirit.

The elder brother does not want the father to forgive the younger brother. It is impossible to forgive someone if you feel “I would never do anything that bad!” You have to be something of an elder brother to refuse to forgive.

3. What we can do about this spiritual condition?

How do we Go in to the FeastAnd he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’ ” Luke 15:31-32

First, we have to EXPERIENCE DEATH TO SELF

  • Jesus ends the parable with the lostness of the older brother in order to get across the point that it is a more dangerous spiritual condition. The younger brother knew he was alienated from the father, but the elder brother did not.
  • If you tell moral, religious people who are trying to be good, trying to obey the Bible so God will bless them—that they are alienated from God, they will just be offended. If you know you are sick you may go to a doctor; if you don’t know you’re sick you won’t—you’ll just die.
  • Moralistic religion works on the principle, “I obey, therefore God accepts me.” The gospel works on the principle, “I am accepted by God through Jesus Christ, therefore I obey.”
  • These are two radically different, even opposite, dynamics. Yet both sets of people sit in church together, both pray, both obey the Ten Commandments, but for radically different reasons. And because they do these things for radically different reasons, they produce radically different results—different kinds of character. One produces anger, joyless compliance, superiority, insecurity, and a condemning spirit. The other slowly but inevitably produces contentment, joy, humility, poise, and a forgiving spirit.
  • Unless a person and a congregation knows the difference between general religiosity and the true gospel, people will constantly fall into moralism and elder-brotherishness. And if you call younger brothers to receive Christ and live for him without making this distinction clear, they will automatically think you are inviting them to become elder brothers.
  • Must learn to see yourself through the eyes of the Younger Brother.

Second, we HAVE TO EXPERIENCE LIFE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

The Father Entreated (parekalei). Imperfect tense, he kept on beseeching him. This is a picture of the Holy Spirit pleading for the Elder Brother to surrender to His Control, to allow Him to be in charge, and thereby experience the feasting of FULL FELLOWSHIP with the Father and the Son.

  • Remember, again, whom Jesus is speaking to (vv.1-2). Jesus is speaking to his mortal enemies, the men he knows will kill him. On the one hand, this is an astonishingly bold challenge to them. He’s talking to those who want to kill him and telling them that they are lost, that they fundamentally misunderstand God’s salvation and purpose in the world, and that they are trampling on the heart of God.
  • But at the same time, he is also being so loving and tender. When the father comes out to the older brother, that is Jesus pleading with his enemies. He is urging them to see their fatal error. Jesus does not scream at his enemies, or smite them, but lovingly urges them to repent and come into his love.

Climb the Ladder to HeavenAnd so we have a foreshadowing of that great moment on the cross when he says, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). This love toward his enemies made him vulnerable and cost him his life. On the cross, instead of blasting his enemies, he lovingly took the penalty of their sins on himself. While we were his enemies, Christ died for us (Rom 5:10).  Knowing what he did for us must drain us of our self-righteousness and our insecurity. We were so sinful he had to die for us. But we were so loved that he was glad to die for us. That takes away both the pride and the fear that makes us elder brothers.

We must stop trying to climb our own ladder to heaven. It is fruitless, it is hopeless. Only when we go to the cross and die to what we are and want and hope, and reach up and take the hand of Jesus – will we have the proper relationship with our Heavenly Father. We will be ALIVE, partakers of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

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Joshu Lets Go Across the JordanIt is time to cross the Jordan River.

Reminds me of a couple of gals at their 40th High School Reunion. This was the first time they had seen each other in 40 years. The one gal asked the other, “You were always so organized in school, Did you manage to live a well planned life?” “Yes,” said her friend. “My first marriage was to a millionaire; my second marriage was to an actor; my third marriage was to a preacher; and now I’m married to an undertaker.” Her friend asked, “What do those marriages have to do with a well planned life?”

“One for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, and four to go.”

Well, it’s time to go. Let’s look at Joshua one this morning and we will find three important things from God’s Word:Challenge Confidence Conduct

  1. T he Challenge God Presents
  2. The Confidence God Provides
  3. The Conduct God Presumes

The Challenge God Presents

1:1 After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, it came to pass that the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying: 2 “Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them–the children of Israel.

Crossing the River JordanIt is time to go through the Jordan River. The Israelites could not build a bridge. They could not go around. They had to go through the Jordan. The reason is because the Jordan River represents death. As we learned last week the entire purpose of the wilderness wanderings was to teach them that they had to put off the old man, the old flesh, and live by the power of God. Joshua in particular had to align himself with the Captain of the Hosts, He had to die to what he thought was best, and follow what God wanted to do. In that respect Joshua represents a man who has joined himself with the power of the Holy Spirit.

Challenge God Presents

Now it was time for the entire nation of Israel to claim the inheritance God was giving them. In order to do so they must die to the flesh, and their fleshly desires, and live according to God and His Word.

The Jordan River always represents Death in the Bible.

  • It feeds into the dead sea.
  • Lot spied the Jordan Valley and thought it was a Valley of Life. But actually it was the way of death.
  • (There is a way which seems right to man, but the ways thereof are the ways of death)
  • Elisha had to cross over the Jordan to get Elijah’s power
  • Elisha told Naaman to go to the Jordan and dip himself seven times in order to be cleansed of the Leprosy.
  • The axe head fell into the Jordan River and Elisha made it float with the tree.
  • John the Baptist baptized those who brought forth works meet for repentance in the Jordan.
  • Jesus was baptized in the Jordan.
  • Baptism is a picture of death to self and rising to new life.

In order to live in the promised land, in order to enter into God’s rest, in order to be born again and put on the new man, we all must cross over the Jordan River. We must die to self and sin and what we want and then rise to walk in newness of life, in the Power of the Holy Spirit.

Victory over the FleshThe challenge that God presents is that this inheritance, this rest can only be claimed by dying to the flesh, dying to what you want, and by living in the power of the Holy Spirit! The Jordan is a picture of the Cross. You always have to die by passing through Jordan to get to Canaan. The only way to be born again is to experience the Cross. When you are willing to die, then you are in the place where God raise you up and use you.

Joshua Is The Man United With The Holy Spirit

Joshua a man united with the Holy SpiritYou Must Be Willing to Die to the Flesh in order for God to Raise You Up and Use You to Claim the Inheritance.

  • Romans 8:8-9 “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you.
  • Romans 13:14 “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.”
  • 1 Corinthians 15:50 “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.”

The Mark of a Christian: No Confidence in the FleshNo Confidence in the Flesh

  • Philippians 3:3 “For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh”
  • James 4:10 “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up.”
  • “When all the nation were clean passed over Jordan” God Spoke (Joshua 4:1)

The Confidence God Provides

Confidence God ProvidesWhen God presents a challenge to us, a challenge to die to what we want, and to live in His power, He always gives us the confidence of a promised victory! God provides us three-fold ammunition to assure us of victory:Promises, Presence, Past Performance

God’s Promises

  • Verse 2 I am going to give this land to you.
  • Verse 3 I will give you every place where you set your foot.
  • Verse 5 No one will be able to stand up against you.
  • Verse 6 You will lead these people to inherit the land.

The outcome was promised. They would be victorious over the enemy. They would claim the land that God had given them for an inheritance. No matter how long it took and no matter how many casualties were sustained the outcome was guaranteed – God promised. The full extent  of the inheritance was not realized until David and Solomon. But in God’s mind it had already been secured. God had promised this to Abraham (Gen 12) God had promised this to Moses (Deut 34:4) There was going to be no repetition of what happened at Kadesh Barnea (Num 13) Joshua 14:9 (ESV) And Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land on which your foot has trodden shall be an inheritance for you and your children forever, because you have wholly followed the Lord my God.’ 1 Kings 8:56 (NKJV) “Blessed be the Lord, who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised. There has not failed one word of all His good promise, which He promised through His servant Moses.

In God, Joshua Can’t Fail, Because GOD CAN’T FAIL..

God Can't FailGod has given us a mission that can’t fail because he won’t. God had already given them the land; it was their responsibility now to step out by faith and claim it. Revelation 11:15 “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign forever and ever.” You Have An Inheritance That Is SURE. All that we need is in Christ. We are seated with Him and Blessed in Him in the heavenlies. We have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ. He has made us to be more than conquerors. He is the author and perfector of our faith. What more do you need to know that you can live a victorious, joyful life, regardless of the circumstances.

You Have No Enemies That Can Defeat You.

No one can stand against you if you are claiming Christ’s Inheritance. We normally think of Satan when we think of enemies. Or maybe terrorists with masks and bombs. But for most of us the enemies that can defeat us are friends, family, gossip, money problems, discouragement, sickness, disease, circumstances. These are the enemies we encounter everyday. The saddest thing in God’s mind is a Christian who has let their heart be overcome by hatred for a fellow Christian or family member, or overcome with discouragement because of a financial setback, or become depressed because of a sickness or even the loss of a loved one. I guarantee you that even though most everyone in this church claims that Christ lives in your heart by faith, that there are some here who are living in defeat because of some situation that has defeated you either emotionally, physically, or psychologically. If Jesus Christ is in your heart, there is no such thing as living a defeated life. He reigns over every situation.

The only way to claim this confidence that God wants us to live in is by seeing Him who is invisible. There are rooms in our lives that we tend to block Jesus out of. We don’t let the Holy Spirit in. He stands at the door of that room and knocks. He says let me come in and show you the victory I have for your life. In 2 Corinthians 1:19-20 (NIV) we are told: For the Son of God, Jesus Christ…in him it has always been “Yes.” For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.” The promises of God are completed in Jesus Christ. He is the YES to all God has promised. When we live our lives in Jesus Christ, we are the AMEN to God’s promises. Our testimony shouts to the folks around us “AMEN to Jesus Christ!”

“O God, you promised, and I believe in your promise.  Please do what you have promised.”  That is praying according to the will of God.

God’s Presence

God's PresenceJoshua 1:5 “I will not leave you nor forsake you.” What a promise God gave to Joshua! “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you or forsake you” (Josh 1:5, NIV). God had given a similar promise to Jacob (Gen. 28:15), and Moses had repeated God’s promise to Joshua (Deut. 31:1-8). God has given this promise to His people today! The Gospel of Matthew opens with “Emmanuel…God with us” (1:23) and closes with Jesus saying, “Lo, I am with you always” (28:20 NKJV).

The writer of Hebrews 13:5 quotes Joshua 1:5 and applies it further. Hebrews 13:5-6 (NKJV) Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” to Christians today: “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (NKJV).

Covetousness and Confidence in God’s Presence

Jesus cant come where there is covetousnessHe relates confidence in God’s presence to lack of covetousness or fondness for money. Christians have come a long way since that moment when Joshua led the people across the Jordan. Our confidence is too often in our money our possessions. If you want God’s presence in your life, you confidence must be in Him alone. Many Christians have a real fondness for their possessions, their money. They watch it all the time. Here God was bringing Israel into a place where money was not going to do the job. It was an impossible task. God offered Joshua the promise of His presence, and in so doing, there can be no confidence in anything else!

Romans 8:31 says if God be for us, who can be against us? But if we be not for God, why should He battle for us. In fact, if our confidence is in our money, God says He will vomit us from His presence

Revelations 3:17 mentions this Laodicean church. The people were saying: ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. When our confidence is in our money, our things, when that is what we delight in, God withdraws from us, or at very best lies grieving in a basement closet of our life. We think we are blessed, but God says Here, Look in My Mirror-you are wretched, inwardly miserable, poor, blind and naked. Here, God was promising His presence to a scared insecure band of runaway slaves. They had nothing in which to be confident. All the Gold the Egyptians gave them was useless in the fight against the Giants of Canaan.

JESUS is with us NOW! But We Can Shut Him out of our Lives

That is the promise of Jesus to us that many of us ignore – And ignoring it is not so much a sin as it is sad. At the end of the letters to the churches in Revelation 3:20 (NLT) “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. Even though we are Christians, and the Holy Spirit indwells us, IT IS POSSIBLE TO SHUT JESUS OUT OF YOUR LIFE, AND NOT FEAST WITH HIM ON HIS WORD. We must repent of our fleshly confidence in our wealth and things and talents. These things make us indifferent to the Cause of Jesus Christ. Repent and open the door!

God’s Past Performance

Joshua 1:5 – Just  as I was with Moses, so  I will be with you.

Gods past performanceJoshua knew the history of God’s faithfulness to his people. He had heard how God had steadfastly worked in Abraham’s, Isaac’s, Jacob’s and Joseph’s lives.  He had heard the stories over and over again of God’s protection, God’s provision and God’s power on behalf of his people. As a very young man he had witnessed the miracles of the plagues in Egypt, the saving of the first-born Israelites from the angel of death, the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea, and the manna from the skies. God had proven himself faithful.

“Living victoriously is not your responsibility – it’s your response to God’s  ability!”

Those stories and countless others like them are our stories too. Yes you can be cynical and say that the good things of life are just coincidental. But if you believe in God and believe that he sent his Son Jesus for us, then it is illogical not to accept that “every good and perfect gift is from above” as James said it, and not to take courage that the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joshua is the same God who is faithful to me today.

Confidence in God comes from trust in His promises, His Presence and His Past performance.

God Gives Us The Challenge To Claim Something He Has Secured, God Gives Us The Confidence Of Victory Based Upon Unbeatable Ammunition, God Assumes We Will Abide By His Rules.

The Conduct that God Presumes

Joshua 1:6-9 (KJV) Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them. Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

Before God could fulfill His promises, however, Joshua had to exercise faith and “be strong and of good courage” (1:6).

Promises of God no pillowTHE PROMISES ARE NOT A PILLOW BUT A PROD

Divine sovereignty is not a substitute for human responsibility. God’s sovereign Word is an encouragement to God’s servants to believe God and obey His commands.

As Charles Spurgeon put it, Joshua “was not to use the promise as a couch upon which his indolence might luxuriate, but as a girdle wherewith to gird up his loins for future activity” (Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, vol. 14, p. 97).

Real trust involves action – God says if you trust me you will obey me.

  • Be Strong & Of Good Courage
  • Focus On Your Responsibility (You Affect The Others Inheritance)
  • Be Strong & Very Courageous.
  • Build Your Life Around The Word And Instructions Of God
  • Be Purposeful Obedience Will Bring GOOD Success.
  • He Mentioned It Twice – Emphasizing Keeping It In Your Mouth.
  • Be Strong And Of A Good Courage; Be Not Afraid, Neither Be Thou Dismayed
  • I Am With You Always.

God says if you are going to live a worthwhile life, if you are going to accomplish the mission I have given you then this is what you must do – know and obey my Word, make it YOUR LIFE!

Covenant RelationshipOUR COVENANT RELATIONSHIP

God was reminding Joshua of the foundational strategy of living a worthwhile life – live an intimate relationship with God in his Word. God doesn’t give Joshua military instructions at this point. Wouldn’t that have been what you would have wanted? God give me the military intelligence I need on the armies we must fight, give me the battle plan, give me the names of the men I should put in charge. But God says if you want success in your mission, here is what I am telling you to do – meditate on my Word so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.

Meditate on God’s Word.

  • When are we going to learn that there is LIFE in this Word. There is Healing Power in this word. You want strong bones – meditate on the Word. You want a Strong Heart – meditate on the Word. You want to know how to Battle enemies – meditate on the Word.
  • It’s one thing to say to a leader, “Be strong! Be very courageous!” and quite something else to enable him to do it. Joshua’s strength and courage would come from meditating on the Word of God, believing its promises, and obeying its precepts.
  • It isn’t enough to have the Bible on your coffee table or in your car or next to you at church. Take time to read it daily and make it a part of his inner person by meditating on it (Ps. 1:2);. The Hebrew word translated “meditate” means “to mutter.” It was the practice of the Jews to read Scripture aloud (Acts 8:26-40) and talk about it to themselves and to one another (Deut. 6:6-9). This explains why God warned Joshua that the Book of the Law was not to depart out of his mouth (Josh. 1:8).

“If you don’t talk to your Bible, your Bible isn’t likely to talk to you!”

The Word is Like the Covenant Feast

Word is our covenant feastThe modern ideal is individualism, self-interest, and self-centeredness. We glory in the philosophy that says, “I will do what I want to do, when and how I want to do it, and I don’t care what anyone else thinks.” But the moment we are converted, such life must come to an end, for as Christians we are called to live in covenant relationship with God and with each other. A covenant is an agreement between two or more persons; therefore, covenant life is community life, and a covenant person will seek, not his own interest, but that of the entire community. So a husband will look after the interests of his wife; parents will look after the interests of their children; and a believer in Christ will look after the interest of the whole community of believers of which he is a part.

Many who enter into a covenant-based life fail to live up to their promises and commitments to others. They become self-seekers instead. But the Bible detests such people. Instead, it praises those who keep their oaths even when it hurts (Psalm 15:4). Take, for example, Joshua’s agreement with the Gibeonites (Joshua 9). As inhabitants of Canaan, the Gibeonites were slated to be destroyed by the Israelites. But they deceived Joshua and the leaders into making a covenant of peace with them, and Joshua kept that covenant, even though it hurt him. Jesus Christ calls us all to live a covenant life, putting the interests of God and our fellow believers before our own.

WHERE ARE YOU IN YOUR JOURNEY?

Where Are You ChristianEach of us is on our own spiritual journey that will ultimately end in either Rest and Reward, or Punishment and Pain. I wish it were that easy. Good and Bad, Life or Death, Heaven or Hell, Black or White. But life is far from easy. In this life on earth we are usually in one of four places:

  • In Egypt, still in slavery to sin, and you need to be saved.
  • In the wilderness, redeemed, but going nowhere other than in circles.  Time of testing, dealing with the flesh, a time where the Holy Spirit is dealing with fleshly habits that keep you wandering. Been saved for years but you still aren’t really digging into your Bible, still not really praying, still not tithing consistently, still not making commitments to be faithful and to serve.  Been saved for years but never led a soul to Christ!  You’re not much closer to God than you were the day you got saved.
    • After leaving Egypt, the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for forty years due to their own unbelief and rebellion. An entire generation murmured against the covenant God had made with them and, as a result, they died in the desert. They did not enter into their inheritance of rest because of their disobedience.
  • In Canaan, excited, growing, having the joy of the Lord.  They’re not a wilderness wanderer, but a giant conqueror! You struggle with enemies, with the flesh, but you are in the Word, living your life and home in Jesus Christ. You are feasting on the Covenant Feast – the Word.
    • Enjoying Covenant Relationship
    • Marriage Relationship as the Bride of Christ
  • An “EASTSIDER” living on the dead side of Jordan. You are saved, but in the world, living for the flesh, for what you think is right. Occasionally you eat some of the milk and honey from the Lord. You cattle are well fed. You probably have money. But your family is falling apart, there is sin at the door. Satan is having a heyday stealing your inheritance.

Heb 4:1 Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. 2 For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. 3 For we who have believed do enter that rest.

Now the second generation were east of the Jordan River, ready to enter the land. They had already defeated Sihon king of Heshbon and Og king of Bashan (Deuteronomy 1:4), thus gaining possession of the territories of these two Amorite kings on the east side of the Jordan River, stretching from the Arnon River in the south to Mount Hermon in the north, beyond the Sea of Galilee. They controlled hundreds of cities of the Amorites, including such fertile lands as Bashan and Gilead. The Bible speaks about “the cows of Bashan,” meaning cows that are healthy and well-fed because of the fertile land. Numbers 32:1 and Deuteronomy 3:19 tell us that the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh possessed large numbers of livestock. So they approached Moses and the other leaders with this request: “Please do not make us cross the Jordan, but let us possess these fertile lands on the east side of Jordan” (Numbers 32:5). In this request, we can see their sinful rejection of the covenant obligations of community life. They were rejecting God’s plan and not living by faith. They were placing their own interests and that of their cattle over the interests of all the other tribes.

lot chooses Jordan ValleyJUST LIKE LOT: many centuries before. Genesis 13:10-11 tells us that “Lot looked up and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan was well watered, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt . . . So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan.” Lot made his choice based on one reason – he owned many cattle. Lot based his decision on sight, not on faith.

Like Lot, these two and a half tribes were making their decision based, not on faith, but on selfish, material interests. They were refusing to cross over the Jordan, to die to their self and selfish wants. Jesus once warned his followers, “The pagans run after all these things” (Matthew 6:32). “These things” there means money, or material possessions. Pagans live for money, making decisions based on the possibility of making more money.

Moses was mad at their request. In anger he called them a “brood of sinners” (Numbers 32:14) and asked, “Shall your brothers go to war while you sit here?” (v. 6).

You see, they were not thinking about being brothers and part of the twelve-tribe community. They were only thinking about themselves. They did not want to cross the mighty Jordan to endanger themselves by fighting wars against the Canaanites. They wanted to enjoy the good life while the others fought on their behalf. In effect, they were saying, “Let the others cross the Jordan and fight the wars of the Lord. We just want to rest and take care of our livestock. We are sick and tired of wandering. We have no more stomach for battles.”

Just as these tribes rejected covenant community life in favor of a self-centered life, so there are believers who confess Jesus as Lord and take upon themselves covenant responsibilities, only to reject them. They refuse to cross over the Jordan, to die to self, to the flesh.

They Repented and Agreed to Fight

Numbers 32:16-19 tells us that these two and a half tribes repented of their sins and renewed their covenant. They entered into an agreement with Moses, Joshua, Eleazar, and other leaders which included these three promises:

  1. Their armed men would cross over the Jordan with their brothers;
  2. They would go ahead of everybody else as the vanguard to face the greatest danger of fighting; and
  3. They would not return to their homes until every Israelite had received his inheritance.

IN OUR COVENANT RELATIONSHIP, GOD KEEPS HIS PROMISES!

Yes, when God makes a promise, we can rely on it, for God is not a man that he should lie, nor does he ever change. “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ’Yes’ in Christ’” (2 Corinthians 1:20). He promised rest to all the tribes and he would keep that promise. But would the tribes of Reuben and Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh fulfill what they had promised?

Consequences to not crossing the Jordan

Although these tribes ultimately repented, there were some consequences to their decision to obtain land on the east of the Jordan. The wives and children they left behind were deprived of the privilege of witnessing divine miracles – the parting of the Jordan River, the destruction of the walls of Jericho, and the many battles fought and won. And in later years, due to their great distance from the temple, these tribes came more and more under pagan influence, and were the first to go into captivity.

We Must Agree to Obey & Join the Battle

  • This is exactly what we mean when we say, “Jesus is Lord.” We are telling the greater Joshua: “Whatever you command, we will do, and wherever you send, we will go. If we do not do it, put us to death.” That is covenant language. Joshua was so pleased with these people that he gave them this certification in Joshua 22:2: “You have done all that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded, and you have obeyed me in everything I commanded.”

Some people live under the mistaken notion that Jesus said, “A new commandment I give you: Love yourself.” But is that what he said? No, he said, “Love one another” (John 13:34). That is covenant life. In fact, Jesus said we must love one another “as I have loved you.” We do not even have the right to love the way we want to love. How did Jesus love us? By dying on the cross for our sins! Therefore, we too must lay down our lives for our brothers. This is serious community life. I hope we will not say, “Who is that person? I don’t have anything to do with him!” No, you have everything to do with that person because he has been saved by Christ and brought into the family of God. Jesus then said, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (v. 35).

East-siders’ settle for less than God’s best.  They may have marched the football all the way down the field, but they allow the devil’s goal line stand to keep them out.  With the promised land in sight, they give up and are shut down, just inches away from victory!

It’s easy for Christians to get into a ‘comfort zone’, and never reach the ‘end zone.’  They’re better off than they were in Egypt or the wilderness, and that’s good enough for them.  God’s best for their life is just a step away, but they don’t take that step, and cross the Jordan River.

“I may not be on fire for God but I’m not exactly living in sin, either!”

Ready to Join the Battle

The peril is that having begun in the Spirit, you might turn aside to make some compromise with Amalek, because of the hardness of the way, the greatness of the cost, by reason of the conflict and forgetting God’s word – “utterly destroy Amalek” (1 Samuel 15:3). “Walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit” (Rom. 8:4).

We settle for a peaceful coexistence with the flesh. God says to destroy Amalek.

People, it’s time to Roll. It’s time to Go.

Hebrews 6:1 (NLT) So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God.